Rizzardi Costeggiola Soave 2014
Textured red apple fruits with a touch of honey. With hake, cod or salmon.
I wrote about Custoza last week; this week it’s better-known neighbour, Soave. Inexpensive Soave is often very watery to the point of tasteless. Pay a little more, and you get a lightly fruity crisp dry white. At the top end (€20+) there are brilliant wines, worth considering for a posh dinner with light shellfish dishes. The above wine is made in a richer style, which works really well.
Available from O’Briens
Custoza 2014, Zenato.
Available for €14.95 from Searsons, Monkstown.
Fresh textured white with pear fruits and good cleansing acidity. Great served solo or with lighter seafood and salad dishes, possibly a prawn salad of some sort.
Custoza, a lesser-known neighbour of Soave, can be more reliable, possibly because there are fewer producers who have to try a little harder. They use the same grape varieties, mainly Garganega, sometimes with a little Trebbiano, to make attractive crisp refreshing white wines.
Lovely fresh textured melon fruits with a zesty acidity and a crisp dry finish. Brilliant inexpensive all-purpose wine.
If only all Pinot Grigio tasted like this. Our shelves are full cheap mawkish versions that seem to satisfy a demand for wine that tastes of very little and therefore won’t offend. I have been following the Fugatti for a few years now – it is proof that you can make good Pinot Grigio at a reasonable price.
Available from Sheridan’s Cheese shops; 64wine, Glasthule; Blackrock Cellar; Rua Deli, Castlebar; Ashe’s of Annascaul.
Lidl Chianti Classico Riserva 2009
Available from Lidl.
Supple soft red cherry fruits and a tannin-free finish. Simple easy-drinking all-purpose wine.
Chianti usually falls into one of three categories; the first covers most of the cheap versions. These are acidic, scrawny, nasty and undrinkable. Then there is the second category, usually but not always from the posher sub-region of Chianti Classico. These are sublime wines, with lifted dark cherries, good acidity and plenty of tannins. They are great with red meat and game. They are also expensive; expect to pay €20 and more; a lot more for the very best. The third category covers a small group of wines that are soft and supple with lush sweet ripe fruits. They don’t taste very like Chianti, which tends to have high acidity. Nor do they have the complexity of a top Chianti Classico. But they are very gluggable on a Wednesday night. The Lidl version is a part of this grouping; inexpensive and light with very easy rounded fruits. For €10.49, you can’t really go wrong.
This was a delicious Chardonnay, mature, with ripe yellow fruits, a touch of spice and subtle toasted hazelnuts. Medium-bodied with a lightly creamy texture, it went perfectly with fried salmon in a dill butter. I took part in a vertical tasting of this wine five years ago, and was impressed by its ability to age. Back then it was a bit too oaky in its youth but I think Donnafugata have lightened things up in recent years. Since then I have stashed away the odd bottle away to see what would happen. Sadly this wine is not imported into Ireland anymore, but according to Wine Searcher retails for around €25 in Europe. By the way, after a number of bitter disappointments with white Burgundy, I have stashed away a number of New World Chardonnays, often with very good results. Perhaps I should be doing the same with the Chiaranda. I came across a bottle of 2005 yesterday; can’t wait to try it!
Italy makes a mind-boggling array of fascinating, individual wines. They are almost impossible to classify and must be a nightmare to market. But it means that wine-lovers can delve into a infinite number of wonderful quirky wines, often at mouth-watering prices. Today’s bottle is one such wine. Dolcetto is something of a misnomer; translated it means little sweet one, but Dolcetto is certainly not a sweet wine. It is bright and fresh with tangy damson fruits. Producers like it because it ripens much earlier than the other two grapes of Piedmont, Nebbiolo and Barbera. It is also ready to drink much sooner. The M&S version, from a highly regarded cooperative in the region, is classic Dolcetto; light and fresh with vibrant juicy dark fruits. At €10.99 it shouldn’t put too much strain on the bank balance.